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Gators face Tennessee in SEC second round

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Florida will open their SEC Tournament run tonight in Atlanta against Tennessee. The Vols defeated Arkansas on Thursday night, 74-68. 

Playing the Vols is a good news-bad news scenario. One of the Gators' highlights this season was sweeping Tennessee by winning in OT at Knoxville and by one-point in Gainesville. A sweep is hard enough. A three-game sweep is nearly impossible, simply due to the law of averages.

We have talked a lot this season about how the Gators are essentially winning because they have the experience needed to win close games. UF was 11-5 in games decided by single-digits or overtime. When looking at the two previous Tennessee games, both the Gators and Vols shot nearly 50 percent in each game and there was minimal differences in rebounds and turnovers.

In the Gainesville win, Chandler Parsons was limited to only three points, which was the most glaring weakness in that Florida victory. But remember that UF was down at halftime and much of the second half, only to rally. Tennessee's apparent inability to execute the killer instinct was also on display last night, as Arkansas over came a 16-point deficit to tie the game with 2:08 remaining.

The Vols are punching out of their weight class when they shoot nearly 50 percent, as they averaged about 42 percent in conference play. (In comparison, UF led the league with 45 percent shooting.) The difference will be if UF can execute on defense or limit Tennessee's possessions. UF doesn't have lock-up defenders, but having a manageable number of turnovers will be essential to preventing a fatigued Tennessee team from getting a second wind.